I was, I have to admit, a little apprehensive in attending this year’s Kop Hill Climb. I was concerned that it might not live up to my first encounter with the event, and that I might become apathetic towards it as the novelty begins to wear off.
I need not have worried though, for if anything, Kop Hill Climb seems to get better with age – just like the hundreds of classic cars that arrived once again to take on the steep slope just outside Princes Risborough, Bucks.
Now in its third year since it was revived by a group of enthusiastic volunteers, Kop Hill Climb is a proper nostalgic treat, and this year served up a wonderful array of veteran, vintage and classic cars and bikes dating back to 1904.
There was a real breadth of automobiles on display this year, some 200 or so in fact, with equal numbers in the two-wheel department. Notable entrants to tackle the hill – which features a grimacing 1:4 gradient at its peak – included such rarities as the 1903 Humberette, 1904 Wolesley Racer, and the 1905 De Dion Bouton. Combined, these veterans amass just 25 horsepower – equivalent to modern-day outboard motor.
With Model T Fords and a 12-litre Vauxhall Viper Special intermingling with Sunbeams, Talbots, and a variety of Bugattis from Type 13 to Type 51, there’s no denying that Kop Hill Climb provides a real cavalcade of motoring history. There is no better way of seeing how the automobile has developed over the past century, and it’s certainly more revealing than traipsing round a stuffy museum.
There was, however, one small (minuscule, even) gripe I had with this year’s event, and that was with regards to the lack of any genuine star attractions.
Apart from the appearance of the oldest surviving Aston Martin A3 prototype (which was originally driven by designer Lionel Martin up Kop Hill in 1924), there wasn’t really any ‘must-see’ vehicles for classic car buffs to properly swoon over.
I’ve lost count of the number of Jaguar E-types I’ve seen this year at similar events (must be at least 1,000), so the 20 on display celebrating its 50th anniversary did nothing for me, nor did Dick Skipworth’s Ecurie Ecosse collection which, as lovely as it is, seems to be rolled out with regular frequency these days.
But with attendance figures at their highest this year (10,000 passed through the gates), what do I know? Maybe this is the type of event doesn’t need a couple of standouts to lure the punters in; the entrants’ prized possessions clearly do an amicable job themselves. But for how long though?
As someone with a keen interest in seeing this type of event succeed, I hope the organisers are able to maintain such enthusiasm in the future. Now that the Hampden Estate has approved a five-year plan, there’s every sign of greater things to come for Kop Hill Climb, and I for one cannot wait.
A provisional date of 22nd-23rd September has been set aside for next year’s event. One for the diary, I would have thought…